Saturday, July 27, 2013

JULY 15, 2013

As we returned from our mini vacation with Whisenants, the lights of the beautiful city of Melbourne caused our hearts beat a little faster, and we anticipated wrapping up our time in the Melbourne Mission Office.  We were warmly greeted at the baggage claim by Woffindens and enjoyed the drive to their flat, talking non-stop about our adventures and catching up on everything we missed while gone from the office for a few days.  We packed and re-packed our suitcases, shipped a couple more boxes to Tasmania, and trained the Murrays  regarding the office assignments that would become theirs.   These were bittersweet days, knowing we would be saying goodbye to many Chinese sons and daughters and  missionaries, whom we probably would  never see again.  Our hearts have been significantly impacted, as we had the opportunity to join them in bearing testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel and of the love Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father has for each of us.  We will forever treasure the time we spent in Melbourne serving as a missionary couple. 

 Jesse, Tong Tong, and little David had a barbeque in our honor and invited Elders Li and Stirling, Caroline, Tina, Frank, Sarah, and Ken Wong, as well as a couple of new investigators.  They live on an upper floor in a high-rise apartment building in downtown Melbourne.  The meal was a traditional Australian BBQ, complete with sausages, beef, chicken, and prawns and all the accompaniments.  We love these dear friends.

 The bbq grills were in the area near the lap pool, exercise room, and grassy play area on one of the floors of their  high rise.
 Elder Li and I have accidentally exchanged coats on a few occasions, but we each wore our own this night.  Elder Stirling and Li were amazing zone leaders and served the missionaries, members, and investigators in the Chinese Branch with  dedication and love. 
 Since the day we arrived in the Chinese Branch, we both tried and tried to get David to warm up to us.  Finally, on our last night in Melbourne, he gave us both pretty much undivided attention. 
We met Caroline in November when she started being taught by the missionaries, and her baptism soon followed.    How we love and admire this young woman!
 Jesse and Tong Tong are cleaning the grills after the barbeque.  They own a small supermarket in Melbourne and provide a lot of leadership in the branch.  Tong Tong is one of the translators for Sacrament Meeting.

 Our last night in Melbourne.  How we will miss this beautiful city!
We have spent many nights in this spare bedroom in Woffinden's home and hopefully will spend more.  Oops, Max, I think you need to change your socks!
One of our final jobs was to participate in an office video that would be part of President and Sister Lifferth's farewell fireside.  Elder Woffinden looks great in his short necktie, sorting out the money.  How he keeps everything straight and the mission running efficiently, and always doing his jobs pleasantly,  is a mystery to us.  We do know he spends long hours in the office.

Next to Max, Sister Epa is my favorite companion.  She is beautiful, gentle, yet firm, and has a huge job keeping the numerous rosters current.    
A parting photo with Elder and Sister Woffinden.  Sister Woffinden is eternally optimistic, and Elder Woffinden has a great sense of humor.  "No kiddin'."

Max with his two girls

As we exchange flats and responsibilities with Elder and Sister Murray, we wish them luck with the mission baptism records, cars, and flats.   They certainly drew the short straw regarding  living accommodations, though at the time, we thought our little flat, our "Summer Home,"  was great.   

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